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Suketakaya Kodenji I - ( ) 18841889 was a child Kabuki actor of note in the late Meiji Era.

His real name was Ito Seikichi ( ). His mon or crest was
'maru ni kozuchi' or 'circular mallet'. His father was Sawamura Tosshi
VII ).
His brothers were Sawamura Snosuke I
) and Sawamura Chjr VII
A rising star in Tky of the late 19th century Suketakaya Kodenji I did not live to
see the turn of the new century or his potential fulfilled. Born 2 May 1884
Suketakaya Kodenji I the son of Sawamura Tosshi VII debuted at the age of four
in 1887 on the occasion of the opening of Tkys Azumaza Theatre. In 1894 at
the age of ten he debuted one of his disciples, the then six year old Sawamura
Daisuke. In August 1895 at the Asakusaza Theatre he starred as the diminutive
masseur Tomiichi alongside such luminaries as Nakamura Shikaku I (later
Nakamura Denkur VI) as Katsuragawa Chuemon, Onoe Matsusuke IV as
Masuda Sangor, Ichimura Kakitsu VI (later Ichimura Uzaemon XV) as Ohan, and
his father Sawamura Tosshi VII as Azekura Jshir in the play Ada Musubi Ayase
no Shigarami: Seidan Koi no Azekura ( ():
() Resentment of the ties of obligation at Ayase:
The Case of the Love of Azekura). He went on to become zagashira, or leader, of
a childrens troupe at the theatre in 1896 when it was renamed the Miyatoza
Theatre. In May 1897 the acting troupe of Suketakaya Kodenji I was launched at
the Asakusaza Theatre. He appeared on stage alongside Nakamura Kichiemon I
in January 1899 and after he had performed to great acclaim at the Shintomiza
Theatre he had been expected to become a great Kabuki actor. However, in
August 1899 he fell ill and passed away on the 24th of that month aged 16 and
was interred in Saikoji Temple in Chitose just south of
Rygoku, Tky alongside generations of the Sawamura line of Kabuki actors. His
death picture (shini-e) was produced the same year by Toyohara Kunichika

From left to right: Sawamura Chnosuke as the Child Isshi Ishidmaru and Sawamura Snosuke I as the Monk
Karukaya Dshin. Memorial print to the memory of Suketakaya Kodenji I (son of Sawamura Tosshi VII) who
passed away August 24th Meiji 32 (1899) aged 16 and is buried in Saikoji Temple, Chitose, Tokyo. From
the performance of Karukaya Dshin Tsukushi no Iezuto at the Shintomiza dated 16th Sept Meiji 32 (1899).

( ) Suketakaya Kodenji I family plot at Saikoji


His nephew, the film actor It Ynosuke , son of Sawamura Snosuke

is also interred in Saikoji Temple

It Ynosuke s grave at Saikoji Temple, Chitose, Tky

Okamoto Kido, in his book Talks on Meiji Era Theatre: Under the Lamp says
In this way, as it kept going, the three year period from Meiji 30 (1897) to Meiji
32 (1899) became the Golden Age of Child Drama. Conversely in August Meiji 32
(1899) Suketakaya Kodenji, a company boss (zagashira) of a childrens troupe,
was on his way by steam train to play at Hakone when he suddenly became ill.
At an Onsen (Mountain Spring Hotel) at Tou-no-Sawa he died, the cause of his
illness a cerebral haemorrhage. He was sixteen years old. Before Id even
finished grieving over Shikomarus premature death I was also grieving over
Kodenjis death. His style of acting was out of proportion to his age. How he
would have developed later on in life as an adult could only be guessed at.
Anyway, even at his youthful age he was certainly an actor of royal pedigree. He
had been reading and intending to study Chinese Classics and was clever in the
way he was able to communicate in English. His younger brother Snosuke, who
was with him when he was on his deathbed, went on to live a much longer life

becoming the managing actor at the Teikoku Gekij (Imperial Theatre) but then,
in spite of not being over forty years old, succumbed to a sudden illness and was
gone. As siblings they surely had both been ill-fated.

Monuments to Sawamura Tosshi VII and Suketakaya Kodenji I at Mimeguri Shrine

( ). The monuments used to be located at Sensji
Temple () but they eventually were moved from Sensji Temple
to Mukojimas Mimeguri Shrine on the other side of the Sumida River to the shore
opposite Asakusas Imado Shrine ( ) where there were
local connections and the location of the Sawamura house.

Photographic images published before December 31st 1956, or photographed

before 1946 and not published for 10 years thereafter, under jurisdiction of the
Government of Japan, are considered to be public domain according to article 23 of
old copyright law of Japan and article 2 of supplemental provision of copyright law of

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